El Fandango, rich culture and fine dining

The surrounding area is rich in history, plus the courteous and professional staff make El Fandango a must-stop eatery and an interesting place to visit, shop and dine while in San Diego…

El Fandango, located in Old Town in San Diego off the 5 Freeway, is an authentic Mexican restaurant nestled in a beautiful historic tourist spot with a rich history of its own.

Old Town, today, caters to locals and visitors from around the world. The area consists of quaint shops with unusual, handmade, artistic items for sale. Shoppers delight in finding gifts, apparel and accessories, such as ponchos, Spanish style dresses and jewelry. But the best feature I found was the great dining spot, El Fandango.

El Fandango is a treasure, not only because of its picturesque setting, but because it also represents the cultural heritage of the historic area. Significant changes occurred in the area during the 1800s. An influx of diverse nationalities and ethnicities from around the world converged because of the gold-rich mines of California. By 1850, about 20,000 French immigrants populated the area, along with thousands of other residents who relocated there from across the U.S. and the world.

El Fandango represents true Mexican culture through its rustic décor, tile floors and arches and, certainly, its food. Sitting in the outdoor patio, surrounded by flowers and listening to birds, we began our culinary journey.

My party included business consultant Alex Ayzin and Massued Riahi with Frontier International, along with A&R’s Antonio Mecheri, a fine artist, chef and food connoisseur. So with our culturally diverse group of epicureans — Persian, Russian, Italian , Swiss and German — we began to explore El Fandango’s menu.

Our waitress, Lola Larsen, who has worked there for 20 years, suggested an array of items, including Enchilada Rellenos, Chicken Enchiladas, Carne Asada and Grilled Chicken Caesars Salad. The chefs prepare everything to order, use only fresh ingredients, and they use no lard in the refried beans. They prepare all their own sauces from scratch. The menu includes Crepes alla Reina, filled with chicken, mushrooms and topped with tarragon sauce, served with rice and vegetables.

Other El Fandango favorites include Beef Tacos with guacamole and beans, and Chicken Mole, consisting of chicken breasts covered with chili sauce, chocolate, peanuts, garnished with sesame seeds.

El Fandango’s setting is romantic, and the authentic food makes a perfect combination. You can call them at (619) 298-2860 or visit their website at www.ElFandangoRestaurant.com.

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